The Gordon Debate
One of the good things about hanging out with friends is the conversation that comes up. Sometimes serious, other times hilarious, but never dull. Not if you have good friends, anyway. But I digress.
Over the course of a few hours this weekend, the topic of Scottie Pippen came up a few times between my friends and I. Many of us (myself included) credit Pippen as being one of the all-time greats. I’d go into the specifics of why, but any self-respecting hoops fan should already be familiar with the man and his career accomplishments. If for some reason you’re unfamiliar, don’t tell anyone. Just head over to Wikipedia and pretend you already knew what you read there.
There was one of my friends who insisted that Pippen was not only undeserving of the praise that he receives as one of the most versatile players on both ends of the court, but that he was "garbage." This was appalling to me. It’s one thing to say that Pippen benefited from playing next to Jordan and never won anything substantial without him, it is another to suggest that he be lumped in with such players as Shawn Bradley and Clarence Weatherspoon.
This friend also went on to say that he would rather have Ben Gordon on his team than Scottie Pippen. Another red flag. I’ve had numerous debates with our resident Bulls fan John Nguyen about Gordon’s usefulness and talent. Most of them do not end amicably. He believes that Gordon is a starter in the league, I question whether he would be better used as a reserve for a number of reasons.
Both sides of that argument were on display in Monday night’s playoff game between Chicago and Boston. Gordon torched the Celtics for 42 points and nearly won the game for them single-handedly down the stretch. This is the Gordon that has a place in the NBA for as long as he wants because few players can catch fire like he can.
There is the other side of the issue though. Gordon and Ray Allen were going back and forth, having their own personal UConn shootout. Allen scored 30 points of his own– more than a few of them with Gordon running to catch up with him– and the Celtics got the W. To be fair, Gordon was not on Allen when he hit the game winner. He was standing on the sideline, subbed out for– you guessed it!– defensive purposes. Also of note was Gordon’s lack of non-scoring productivity. He had one rebound and one steal in 43 minutes to go along with his scoring barrage.
What made this interesting to me was something I said during the debate with my friends. "Sure Gordon will get you 40, but he’ll give up 30." The numbers are a coincidence I’m sure, but the point isn’t. Are Gordon’s size and style working against him as a player or are they just evidence that dynamite comes in small packages?
I’m interested in seeing what you guys think. It would be nice if you supported what you say with evidence of some sort or something to let us in on your thought process. And keep it sensible. I’ll go along with a lot of points of view, just don’t say something silly like "Gordon is better than Pippen."
And for the record, you’re still wrong about that, Rod. Just so you know.
[Image courtesy of Radiospike Photography]